I Finished A Spartan Race

“Who are you?”

“We are Spartan”

“Who are you?”

“We are Spartan”

“Say it like you mean it, who are you?”

“WE ARE SPARTAN!”

“READY, SET, GO!!!!!”

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I was off, running up a hill that was made to ski down. In Welch, Minnesota this weekend I decided to put the past 10 months of training to the test.

Last September I decided I really wanted to get back into good physical shape. For a lot of reasons. The two biggest reasons being: I wanted to get in a good routine of exercise before winter set in (in hopes of depression prevention), and I wanted to take control of my body again (anyone who has had a baby or three can understand this). My husband and I had watched and looked into Spartan races for a while and I decided it was something I really wanted to do. Working towards a race is very motivating to me. My husband thought he’d try it out too, and we eventually convinced my brother in law to join us. My husband’s mom and dad came up so they could watch our kids while we ran the race, which was awesome!

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After months of training, the day came. We packed up our little family and went to Minnesota to do a Sprint distance Spartan Race. No sooner had we jumped over a wall to get to the starting line (no turning back) that the announcer told us that we would be going 5.2 miles…apparently that’s what 4+ miles means to the “Spartan people.”

Instead of taking you through the course obstacle by obstacle and mile by mile I’m going to highlight some things for you and you can look up any of the obstacles you are interested!

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Some things I did expect:

An awesome environment:  I was assuming it would be a fun environment, but this actually exceeded my expectations. The sign in process was simple and organized, which can make or break a race for me! There was music playing, different small obstacle courses you can do for fun, and a lot of people with positive attitudes. I was hoping the crowd would be one that I’d be comfortable bringing my family to, and have a desire to bring them back, and it was!

Doing a lot of Burpees: There are certain obstacles that you have to figure out a way to do them, no matter what. There are other obstacles that if you fail to complete in one try, you have to do burpees. Don’t know what a burpee is? Watch this to find out. They are the best and the worst all at the same time. I was expecting to have to do a lot, because I knew I wasn’t quite up to par on some of the upper body strength based obstacles. I ended up doing 150 burpees during the race.

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Getting a sweet t-shirt and a medal: All races are worth it for a good t-shirt! This shirt is a serious badge of honor, just like I expected it to be!!! It’s comfy and has a great design. I don’t even care that gray in not my color, badge of honor baby! Also, the medal, talk heavy duty, feel like a real winner type of medal.

To be sore: Yes, I am still sore…three days later…I knew it would be like this….so I’m good….ouch.

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Some things I didn’t expect:

How hard it was!!! All of the spartan race previews on youtube and tv show coverage of the race don’t even come close to to doing this race justice. When you are on trails, all alone, climbing through forests and hoisting over walls and dragging yourself through mud, mentally pushing yourself beyond your limit, yeah, no youtube video or tv show is going to be able to show you that. So what I’m saying is, if you think it looks hard, it’s even harder! I was expecting it to be crazy hard. Don’t get me wrong. I was expecting to be pushed to my limit, but to be pushed to beyond my limit and have to use every single ounce of mental strength to keep going….no, I wasn’t expecting that. I kept telling myself “An object in motion stays in motion” to help me get through to the end!

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How much I would walk (how much everyone would walk): A majority of my training was doing sets of burpees or squats or something and then running 1/4-1/2 mile and then going back to a different stationary exercise.  So I felt very conditioned and ready to run the whole time. I did run more than some people on the course, but I promise when you are on a forest trail where the only way to get up the trail is by using any branches and saplings that will hold your weight to hoist yourself up the almost vertical climb, you won’t be doing too much running!

How easy SOME of the obstacles were for me: While all of the obstacles are challenging, some obstacles that I thought would be killer sometimes ended up being not too bad. For instance, the barb wire crawl. The mud made it easier because you could just pull your body and you would slide. A barb did stick into my knee, and also the last half of the mud we had to crawl through ended up being full of rocks, which was extremely uncomfortable, but all in all, not too bad.

The slip wall has a rope to help you get up and I thought it’d be super slippery and hard, and I ended up getting over it pretty fast.

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The sandbag carry was fun, I really trained for that one so it didn’t phase me much.

I was pretty sure the inverted wall was going to kick my butt…and then I was over it and offering a hand to another person trying to get over, so that was cool!

The Bucket Brigade: I was very familiar with this obstacle, but embarassingly unprepared for it. For those of you un-familiar with the bucket brigade, I’ll enlighten you. You have to take a big 5 gallon bucket and fill it with gravel yourself, carry it over a marked route and then bring the bucket back and dump the gravel into the pit and move on. Sounds ok…except it wasn’t. Not even close to ok…at all! The bucket full of gravel itself was WAY heavier than I thought it would be. Then the marked route was straight up a ridiculously steep hill and back down. This obstacle completely wore me out and cost me so much time. I was counting 20-40 steps and then resting with the bucket on my thigh until I could find the energy to keep going. This was the last straw for my body. After this obstacle the trail went back up that hill, except twice as far up. That hill after the bucket brigade was so hard for me. I had to rest multiple times because I was starting to get dizzy. Burpees were pretty much a joke for me after that. I couldn’t come to a full standing position at the top of the burpee (and you can forget about jumping) because I kept getting light headed. Previously during the race I could positive self talk, sing some songs in my head, look at the terrain and do things like that to keep me going. After the bucket brigade I was seriously numb and could only think about getting one foot in front of the other to finish the race. Serious survival mode, in a way I’ve never experienced it before.

Being so physically depleted by the end of the race: Thank you bucket brigade, thank to you for completely depleting me! To put this into perspective, It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to cover the first 3.5 miles and get 16 of the obstacles done. It took me 1 hour and forty-five minutes to do the last 1.75 miles and 8 obstacles. CRAZY!!! It seriously took me an hour to be able to walk by myself or without resting after the race.

The hose down station: Yes, they had a fenced off area with tons of hoses where you could go in and spray yourself off. This is what I think actually snapped me back to normal. My body temperature must have way off and that cold water got me breathing and the blood flowing back to my head! Anyway, it was really nice to hose down and go into the changing area and get some dry, clean clothes on.

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What would I do different:

Pay attention to what I eat the leading up of the race: I really needed to fuel myself better leading up to the race. I also needed to hydrate myself better.

Train for the bucket brigade: I thought I’d do just fine with the bucket brigade. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am going to buy a bucket, fill it with gravel, leave it by my stairs and every time I go down and every time I go up those stairs I will be carrying that dang bucket!

Wear Sunscreen: I didn’t get a huge burn or anything, but my husband and I did get a nice tan line across our foreheads thanks to the spartan bib number headbands.

Do the Kids Spartan Race BEFORE the adult race: My son did some of the kid race, but he was a little stressed about seeing us do the adult race, and tired from having to wait so long for us to finish. I wish I would have used accompanying him on his kid race as my warm up and enjoyed his moment with him before I went on to the adult race.

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In conclusion, I am going to answer the question you are all wondering. Would I do this again??? YES! Our family is already planning the race next year and we are extending the invite to all of our siblings to make it a big family affair. It was amazing to push myself beyond my limit both mentally and physically. I worked so hard training for this, got back into shape, lost 15 pounds, got my body back, and can see clearly what I want to work on for the next year. This was a really amazing experience on so many levels and it meant so much to me.

And can I give a quick shout out to my karate teacher from my youth? Hey Pam, if it weren’t for you kicking my butt all those years (and pushing me way beyond my perceived 14 year old limit) I honestly don’t think I would have even believed I was physically capable of doing something like this!

I feel like I’m in a club now. If you’ve completed a Spartan Race, you know what I’m talking about. “Who am I?” “I am Spartan!”

This is not sponsored in any way by Spartan Race, Inc. All opinions are my own.

Visit the obstacle course guide to read a lot of great descriptions of the obstacles I’m talking about. Also you can search on youtube “Spartan {instert obstacle name here}” to get lots of videos of people doing the obstacles.

This is the list of most of the obstacles I did!

Hurdles

Rolling Mud with dunk wall

Monkey Bars

A-Frame Cargo

6′ wall

inverted wall

barb wire crawl

slip wall

z-wall

Sandbag Carry

8′ wall

Bucket Brigade

wall climb

Herculese hoist

Spearman

Rope Climb

Fire Jump

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